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  1. #1
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    The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    The Plan

    The plan is to:

    1. Build a moon base over a period of 15 years. This funding will come from NASA budget and they will give one billion dollars a year making the total fifteen billion dollars.
    2. With this moon base constructed, engage in the active mining of Helium 3.
    3. Extract Helium 3s vast energy by the process of nuclear fusion.

    Further details and info are to follow.
    *Note:
    It is not necessary to read this entire case, feel free to skim and read only the parts you wish.

    Part 1: Inherency and Harms
    These are the bad things that will happen if the current situation remains the same and the barriers stopping the status quo from fixing the problem.

    HARM 1: The US SPACE PROGRAM IS IN STAGNATION

    Sub Point A:
    NASA IS AIMLESS Kluger '00

    [Jeffrey; WILL WE LIVE ON MARS?; Time; 10 April 2000; page 60]
    During the past 25 years, the best missions we've been able to muster have been a few unmanned Martian probes. After the two most recent ones famously flamed out, and after a scathing report blaming NASA mismanagement for the failures, even that seems beyond us.
    Sub Point B:
    ALL ATTEMPTS TO MAKE NASA DESTINATION-DRIVEN ARE THWARTED BY EFFORTS FOR THE SHUTTLE AND ISS INSTEAD-Zubrin '09
    [Robert; President of the Mars Society; The moon–mars initiative: Making the vision real; Futures; October 2009; page 541]
    NASA's attempt to become a destination-driven space agency is being placed on hold, and thus at severe risk, because the funds needed to get it up and running are being diverted to Shuttle and Station instead. This should not be. We need to admit that the ISS is a mistake, and that expenditures on it do not support reaching the goals that we have for the space program. Shuttle flights to ISS thus cannot be justified either. In reality, the only future Shuttle flight that can be honestly justified is that to upgrade and repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
    Sub Point C:
    MUST ABANDON THE SHUTTLE MODE THINKING TO MAKE FUTURE PROJECTS POSSIBLE Zubrin '09
    [Robert; President of the Mars Society; The moon–mars initiative: Making the vision real; Futures; October 2009; page 541]
    The key to success comes from rejecting the policy of continued stagnation represented by senile Shuttle Mode thinking, and returning to the destination-driven Apollo Mode method of planned operation that allowed the space agency to perform so brilliantly during its youth.

    NASA IS AIMLESSLY SPENDING MONEY-Zubrin ‘11
    [Robert; President of the Mars Society; The Great PJ Media Space Debate; Pajamas Media; 22 May 2011;
    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-gre...space-debate/; retrieved 18 July 2011]
    It has been a year since President Barack Obama announced his new space policy. Since that time, NASA has spent something on the order of ten billion dollars on human spaceflight in order to accomplish nothing. This is not surprising. There were no plans to accomplish anything. Nor, if the plan remains in place, will anything be accomplished by 2020, after the expenditure of a further 100 billion dollars. The current plan requires zero accomplishment, it aims for zero accomplishment, and it will deliver zero accomplishment.

    Sub Point D:

    WITHOUT A GOAL LIKE MARS OR THE MOON, WESTERN CIVILIZATION FACES THE RISK OF TECHNOLOGICAL STAGNATION

    THE ONLY THING BETWEEN US AND A MOON BASE MISSION IS THE POLITICAL DECISION TO GO-Portree '97

    AND THE CURRENT MINDSET IS A RECIPE FOR NO EXPLORATION-Zubrin ‘11
    [Robert; President of the Mars Society; The Great PJ Media Space Debate; Pajamas Media; 22 May 2011; http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-gre...space-debate/; retrieved 18 July 2011]
    It is clear that a mission-driven space program should be more optimal for actually accomplishing missions, but why should it be so much better at technology development than one that allegedly purports to be technology-driven? The reason is, that in the absence of a defining plan which identifies the required technologies, the “technology-driven” plan actually becomes a constituency-driven plan, with various communities lobbying NASA HQ or Congress for funding their own pet projects. These are not necessarily relevant, don’t fit together, and thus merely constitute a random set of time and money wasters that don’t enable us to go anywhere.


    HARM 2:
    NASA MINDSET STUCK IN COMPLEX, WASTEFUL MISSIONS


    IN SHUTTLE MODE, MONEY IS SPENT IN A USELESSLY INEFFICIENT WAY-Zubrin '09
    [Robert; President of the Mars Society; The moon–mars initiative: Making the vision real; Futures; October 2009; page
    541] Comparing these two records, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that that NASA's productivity in both missions accomplished and technology development during its Apollo Mode was at least ten times greater than under the current Shuttle Mode. The Shuttle Mode is the expenditure of large sums of money without direction by strategic purpose. That is why it is hopelessly inefficient. It is remarkable that the leader of any technical organization would tolerate such a senile mode of operation, but in the absence of course-setting mandate, Shuttle-era NASA administrators have come to accept it. Indeed, during his first 2 years in office, Administrator Sean O’Keefe explicitly endorsed this state of affairs, repeatedly rebutting critics by proclaiming “NASA should not be destination-driven.”

    From these harms, the inherency is clear, the barrier stopping our plan is the current plans that exist in the status quo which are wasteful; and should be abolished.



    Part 2 of the debate is the advantages and solvency; these are the good things that will happen if the affirmative plan is passed and how these advantages solve the harms. (Other harms and implied solvencies are also listed in the advantages)

    Advantage 1:
    LUNAR HELIUM 3 WILL PROVIDE CLEAN, EFFICIENT ENERGY TO REPLACE OIL BEFORE THE DEVASTATING IMPACT OF PEAK OIL

    Sub Point A:

    $15 BILLION OVER 15 YEARS WILL BE ENOUGH TO MAKE HE-3 POWER PRODUCTION A REALITY
    [Clay Dillow; staff writer; Former Apollo Astronaut and Senator Says Mining Helium on the Moon Could Solve The Global Energy Crisis; Popular Science; 05 May 2011;
    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011 05/former-apollo-astronaut-saysmoon-
    mining-could-solve-global-energy-crisis; retrieved 28 Jun 2011]
    Former astronaut, Apollo moonwalker, geologist and former Senator Harrison Schmitt has a modest plan to solve the world’s energy problems. All we need is $15 billion over 15 years and some fusion reactors.
    And we’ll need a moon base.
    He thinks the U.S. should go back to the moon, this time to mine the surface for helium-3, an isotope of helium that is rare on earth but relatively bountiful on the moon. The Russians have been talking about mining helium-3 from the moon for years, but they’ve never put forth a viable plan. So how does Schmitt’s plan break down? We’ll need $5 billion for a helium-3 fusion demonstration plant. We’ll also need to invest $5 billion more in a heavy-lift rocket capable of launching regular moon missions, something akin to the Apollo-era Saturn V. A moon base for mining the stuff would cost another $2.5 billion, and another $2.5 billion that would be chalked up to operating costs in an endeavor of this magnitude.
    Sub Point B:
    THERE COULD BE TEN TIMES THE ENERGY OF ALL FOSSIL FUEL SOURCE ON THE EARTH IN LUNAR HE-3
    [Richard Bilder; Law Professor @ University of Wisconsin; A Legal Regime for the Mining of Helium-3 on the Moon: U.S. Policy
    Options; Fordham International Law Journal; Volume 33, Issue 2; 2009]
    He-3 is a component of the "solar wind" comprised of gas and charged particles continuously emitted by the sun into the solar system in the course of its thermonuclear fusion processes.
    During more than four billion years in which the solar wind has impacted the Moon, significant amounts of He-3 have become embedded in the Moon's regolith-the loose and dusty upper layer of rocks and soil comprising much of the Moon's surface. It is estimated that, altogether, there may be as much as one million metric tons of He-3 potentially recoverable from the Moon's surface. This amount of He-3 is theoretically equivalent to ten times the energy content of all of the coal, oil, and natural gas economically recoverable on Earth. Since the Earth, unlike the Moon, possesses a magnetic field and atmosphere that deflect the solar wind, He-3 is rarely found naturally on Earth. The small amounts of He-3 available for research and experiment on Earth are derived principally from the decay of tritium used in thermonuclear weapons.

    Sub Point C:
    HE-3 IS THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE TO MODERN ENERGY SOURCES AND PRESENTS NO SIGNIFICANT ENGINEERING CHALLENGES
    [James Oberg; Moonscam: Russians try to sell the moon for foreign cash; The Space Review; 06 Feb 2006; http://www.thespacereview.com/article/551/1; retrieved 20 Jun 2011]
    Space geologist Erik Galimov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, added that immediate steps must be taken to explore potential mining sites. “We should start geological survey, make maps of blocs exposed to the Sun, and design experimental installations if we want to start the production of helium-3 on the Moon in 15–20 years,” he said.
    “There is nothing difficult from the engineer’s point of view in the production of helium-3,” he said. “It is only a matter of investments.”
    He calculates that an area of 10–15 square kilometers with the depth of three meters will be enough for producing one ton of helium-3. Engineers will have to remove and purify three meters of sand, enrich helium-3, and liquidify it for the delivery to the Earth.
    “It is much easier to develop resources on the Moon than to produce oil on the Earth,” Galimov continued. “The Moon should become part of the Earth economy, as helium-3 is the only alternative to modern energy sources, which will ensure the normal environmental future of the planet,” he concluded.

    Sub Point D:
    PEAK OIL WILL COLLAPSE AGRICULTURE AND THE ECONOMY BEFORE WARS OVER DWINDLING OIL SUPPLIES BEGIN
    [Mimi Swartz; “The Gospel According to Matthew;” Texas Monthly; February 2008]
    Matthew R. Simmons, the head of one of the largest investment banking firms in the world, is heatedly discussing the chaos to come when, as long predicted, global oil production peaks and for the rest of our time on earth we struggle and suffer and barely endure under a diminishing supply of fuel until it disappears entirely. This idea is known as "peak oil," and Simmons is its fearsome apostle. As he puts it, "I don't see why people are so worried about global warming destroying the planet--peak oil will take care of that." He describes a bleak future, in which demand for oil will always surpass supply, the price will continue to rise--"so fast your head will spin"--and all sorts of problems in our carbon dependent world will ensue. As fuel shortfalls complicate global delivery routes and leave farmers unable to run their tractors, we will face massive food shortages. Products made with petroleum, from asphalt and plastic to fabrics and computer chips, will also become scarcer and scarcer. Standards of living will fall, and people will not be able to pay their debts. Lending will tighten, and eventually there will be major defaults. Growth will cease, and hoarding will set in as oil becomes increasingly rare. Then, according to Simmons, the wars will begin. That is the peak oil scenario. We need a different energy supply

    ADVANTAGE 2:
    HELIUM-3 IS CLEAN, RENEWABLE ENERGY


    Sub Point A:
    HE-3 IS A NON-RADIOACTIVE, CLEAN FUEL
    [Irvine Dean; Mining the Moon for a Nuclear Future; CNN; 18 Dec 2006; http://articles.cnn.com/2006-12-18/t...on?_s=PM:TECH; retrieved 20 Jun 2011]
    The substance that has such large potential is an isotope called helium-3, a form of helium but with only one neutron instead of two. It is extremely rare on earth as it is created during very active nuclear reactions, most commonly found on the surface of the sun, but here can only be found as a by-product of the maintenance of nuclear weapons. Experts have estimated that the moon is a rich depository of the isotope with possible reserves that stretch meters down into the lunar soil that have been carried there by solar winds. What makes helium-3 so attractive as an alternative future fuel source is its environmentally friendly credentials, as it does not produce radioactive waste.
    Sub Point B:
    HE-3 WOULD DIMINISH BOTH THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FOSSIL FUELS AND THE PROLIFERATION DANGER OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
    [Richard Bilder; Law Professor @ University of Wisconsin; A Legal Regime for the Mining of Helium-3 on the Moon: U.S. Policy Options; Fordham International Law Journal; Volume 33, Issue 2; 2009]
    The implications of such a development could be far-reaching and profound. Fusion energy would significantly reduce the world's heavy dependence on fossil fuels, which are associated with environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and global warming not to mention their rising price and role in recurrent geopolitical and economic tensions. Fusion energy could also provide a safer alternative to many countries' growing reliance on energy generated from nuclear fission reactors, which hold the potential dangers of nuclear accidents, terrorism, weapons proliferation, and radioactive waste disposal.
    Moreover, in contrast to the prospect of depletion of terrestrial fossil fuels, it is estimated that there is sufficient He-3 present on the Moon to meet humanity's rapidly growing energy needs for many centuries to come.

    Sub Point C:
    HE-3 IS MORE EFFICIENT &CLEANER THAN OTHER SOURCES OF FUSION FUEL-D’Souza and Otalvaro
    [Marsha and Diana; Worchester Polytechnic Institute; HARVESTING HELIUM-3 FROM THE MOON; 17 Feb 2006; retrieved 28 Jun 2011 http://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Av...cted/IQP.pdf;]
    He-3 is especially promising as a fusion fuel due to the low levels of radioactive waste produced by its reaction with deuterium and also because of the impressively high efficiencies. 99% of the energy is released as charged particles, thus being converted immediately into electricity. In contrast, other nuclear reactions in which energy is derived from the heat produced by the reaction are less efficient because of mechanical constraints in efficiencies.

    Sub Point D:
    MINING HE-3 WILL BE AFFORDABLE AND PRODUCE ENOUGH FOR OUR ENERGY NEEDS-Schmitt ‘04
    [Harrison; staff writer; Mining the Moon; Popular Mechanics; October 2004;
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/scie.../1283056.html; retrieved 27 Jun 2011]
    Samples collected in 1969 by Neil Armstrong during the first lunar landing showed that helium-3 concentrations in lunar soil are at least 13 parts per billion (ppb) by weight. Levels may range from 20 to 30 ppb in undisturbed soils. At a projected value of $40,000 per ounce, 220 pounds of helium-3 would be worth about $141 million. Digging a patch of lunar surface roughly three-quarters of a square mile to a depth of about 9 ft. should yield about 220 pounds of helium-3--enough to power a city the size of Dallas or Detroit for a year.
    The mining costs would not be high by terrestrial standards. Automated machines might perform the work. Extracting the isotope would not be particularly difficult.
    Sub Point E:
    A MINING OPERATION FOR HE-3 WOULD PRODUCE 300 TIMES THE ENERGY IT USES-
    [Michael Schriber; How moon rocks could power the future; MSNBC; 13 Aug 2008; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26179944/; retrieved 27 Jun 2011]
    "Helium-3 is present on the moon, but in small concentration levels, meaning that many hundreds of tons of soil must be processed to extract a considerable amount of helium-3," said Paul Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, a NASA-funded research institution.
    This extraction requires heating lunar dust particles to around 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit
    Kulcinski and his colleagues have designed rovers that could move along the surface, scraping up lunar soil and heating it with concentrated sunlight.
    Such a mining operation would retrieve 300 times more energy than it uses (including all the energy to fly to the moon and back). In comparison, mining coal returns 15-20 times the energy put in.


    ADVANTAGE 3:
    A SMALL AMOUNT OF HELIUM-3 WILL MEET ENERGY NEEDS
    ONE SHUTTLE PAYLOAD FULL WOULD PROVIDE ALL US ENERGY NEEDS FOR A YEAR


    Sub Point A:
    40 TONS OF HE-3 WOULD PRODUCE ENOUGH ENERGY FOR AMERICA’S ANNUAL ELECTRICITY NEEDS-Liu and Carmichael ‘07
    [Melinda and Mary; staff writers; To Reach for the Moon; Newsweek; 12 Feb 2007]
    National pride is a big force behind China's moon program, but not the only one. The Chinese are aiming to do more than "just set up a flag or pick up a piece of rock," says Ye Zili of China's Space Science Society. What are they after? A limitless source of clean, safe energy to feed their voracious economy. The stable isotope helium 3 (3He), a potential fuel for nuclear fusion, was first found in moon rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. It is one constituent of the "solar
    wind" constantly given off by the Sun. The stuff bounces off Earth's magnetic field, but the moon has no magnetic field, and its surface has been soaking up 3He for billions of years. According to Gerald Kulcinski, director of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a mere 40 tons would be roughly enough to serve America's electrical needs for a year.
    Sub Point B:
    THREE SPACE SHUTTLE MISSIONS COULD BRING ENOUGH FUEL FOR ALL THE HUMANS ON THE WORLD-Hepeng ‘06
    [Jia; He Asked for the Moon and Got It; China Daily; 26 July 2006; http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2006-
    07/26/content_649325.htm; retrieved 28 Jun 2011]
    Helium-3, an isotope of the element Helium, is an ideal fuel for nuclear fusion power, the next generation of nuclear power. Nuclear fusion creates four times as much energy as nuclear fission, the current form of commercialized nuclear power. Nuclear fusion does not produce environmental problems like radioactive nuclear waste. It is estimated that reserves of Helium-3 across the Earth amount to just 15 tons, while 100 tons of Helium-3 will be needed each year if nuclear fusion technology is applied to meet global energy demands. The moon on the other hand has reserves estimated at between 1 to 5 million tons. "Each year three space shuttle missions could bring enough fuel for all human beings across the world," said Ouyang.
    Sub Point C:
    100 KILOGRAMS OF HE-3 IS WORTH $140 MILLION AND COULD BE EASILY MINED-Johnstone ‘11
    [Bruce; Astronaut Has $15 Billion Plan to Mine the Moon; Leader-Post; 03 May 2011;
    http://www.leaderpost.com/technology...31/story.html; retrieved 28 Jun 2011]
    In a lunar valley deeper than the Grand Canyon is the mixed layer of material called regolith contained helium-3. "Helium-3 is a nearly ideal fuel for fusion nuclear power. It's ideal because it produces little or no radioactive waste, unlike almost all other nuclear systems.'' Containing 20 parts per billion of helium-3, about 100 kg of He-3 could provide sufficient fuel to allow a fusion reactor to generate 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power for a year. "That 100 kg could be produced by mining the lunar regolith to a depth of three meters and an area of about two square kilometers.' The value of that energy is about $140 million (based the energy equivalent in coal at today's prices).


    ADVANTAGE/SOLVENCY POINT 1:
    THERE IS A HUGE ADVANTAGE TO BEING FIRST

    Sub Point A:
    CONFLICT OVER HE-3 ON THE MOON IS INEVITABLE; THERE WILL BE A TREMENDOUS ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE FOR THE STATE THAT FIRST ACQUIRES IT-Hatch ‘10
    [Benjamin; Notes and Comments Editor; DIVIDING THE PIE IN THE SKY:THE NEED FOR A NEW LUNAR RESOURCES REGIME; Emory International Law Review; 2010]
    The historical conflicts over imperialist regimes and colonialism tend to suggest that when powerful states have an interest in amassing something that exists in large, previously unowned quantities in one location, they will inevitably come into conflict with one another. States have a limited economic interest in the Antarctic, and so they are unlikely to invest military assets and the necessary financing to vindicate or broaden their claim to something that is not generating them any wealth. In contrast, states seem to believe that they have potentially great economic interests in the Moon and, accordingly may have a correspondingly large motivation to have conflicts over it. Imagine a situation where one state was able to not only find large quantities of Helium-3 or some other valuable resource on the Moon but also succeeded in denying access to other states. That state would enjoy a tremendous economic advantage by cornering the market in some ultra-rare, useful commodity. Resources by their nature breed conflict. As demonstrated above, states will soon be converging on the Moon to reap the benefits that it may provide. Given the recent actions by the United States and China, and the spirit of conquest and competition that seems to be informing the current Moon rush, the vague and generic OST will not be able to sufficiently stop state conflict over the greatest economic opportunity in history.
    Sub Point B:
    OTHER NATIONS ARE PRIORITIZING BEING FIRST TO THE MOON TO MINE HE-3-Nguyen ‘11
    [Tuan C.; China to launch lunar rover, mine moon for nuclear fuel; SmartPlanet; 10 May 2011;
    http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thin...ear-fuel/7158; retrieved 9 August 2011]
    A top Chinese official has confirmed that the world’s most populous nation plans to send robots to the moon. Chief scientist of the Chinese lunar exploration program, made the announcement at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), held in Shanghai. The missions, scheduled for launch in 2013 and 2017, will serve as a tune up for a more challenging goal: putting a man on the moon by 2025. “But why?” you ask. Well, beyond obvious bragging rights, the China National Space Administration’s ambitious foray into lunar exploration is part of a grander scheme to exploit the moon’s vast iron reserves and its abundance of Helium- 3, a rare but heavily sought-after fuel for nuclear fusion plants. This elaborate operation to mine the moon for these coveted natural resources was set in motion back in 2007 when the agency launched into space its first lunar orbiter Chang’e-1 (named after the moon goddess of Chinese folklore) to scan the landscape and produce a detailed 3-D map of the moon’s surface. This was followed in 2010 by the successful launch of another probe, Chang’e-2, which was equipped with a higher-resolution camera and orbited at an even closer distance of 100 kilometers. The data is being used to pinpoint an ideal landing spot for a rover.


    SOLVENCY POINT 2:
    MINING IS FEASIBLE


    RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS ARE OPTIMISTIC THAT THEY CAN EXTRACT LUNAR HE-3 Oberg ‘06
    [James; Moonscam: Russians try to sell the moon for foreign cash; The Space Review; 06 Feb 2006; http://www.thespacereview.com/article/551/1; retrieved 20 Jun 2011] The appointed head of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (the firm that builds and
    operates all of Russia’s human space vehicles), claimed that one ton of helium-3 could produce as much energy as 14 million tons of oil. “Ten tons of helium-3 would be enough to meet the yearly energy needs of Russia,” he added. “There are practically no reserves of helium on the Earth. On the Moon, there are between 1 million and 500 million tons, according to various estimates,” he said, enough for the entire planet’s energy needs for a thousand years. “We are optimistic about a complex for transportation which can be created by 2015, and a complex for extracting helium-3 on the Moon can be built by 2020,”
    Sub Point B:
    RUSSIA HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO MINE HE-3 BY 2020-Williams ‘07
    [Mark; staff writer; Mining the Moon; Technology Review; 23 Aug 2007;
    http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/19296/?a=f; retrieved 27 Jun 2011]
    Even more surprising is that one reason for much of the interest appears to be plans to mine helium-3--purportedly an ideal fuel for fusion reactors but almost unavailable on Earth--from the moon's surface. NASA's Vision for Space Exploration has U.S. astronauts scheduled to be back on the moon in 2020 and permanently staffing a base there by 2024. While the U.S. space agency has neither announced nor denied any desire to mine helium-3, it has nevertheless
    placed advocates of mining He3 in influential positions. For its part, Russia claims that the aim of any lunar program of its own--for what it's worth, the rocket corporation Energia recently started blustering that it will build a permanent moon base by 2015-2020--will be extracting He3.

  2. #2
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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    The moon is not US property.

  3. #3
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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by abcd View Post
    The moon is not US property.
    Who can claim property rights then?





    Soren, $15B seems low to establish this project (there are other variable costs as well we should consider), do you have reason to this amount?
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by abcd View Post
    The moon is not US property.
    It would be just like the ocean, whoever gets there first gets to mine it first. And besides, other countries are establishing plans to do this. Letting an extremely valuable resource go to waste simply because we don't technically "own" the moon is no good reason at all.

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    What's ironic is that this would be an even more symbolic fossil fuel than organic fossil fuels. It took billions of years for He3 to accumulate in the Moon's surface. It took merely millions of years for coal and oil to form. Once the He3 is all mined away, you have a better chance of waiting for a forest to metamorphize into coal than for an obtainable amount of He3.

    This is a very interesting idea, however. Very interesting, and rather well presented. I especially agree that NASA needs a goal. A real goal, even if it is not space exploration. A space telescope with a 1000 meter lens or something insane, some goal to build up toward and attempt to reach, slowly, over time. Regarding the energy, though, unfortunately in my mind it only reenforces the argument for solar power/geothermal as the primary energy source. They are the only energy sources that will last for essentially the lifetime of the Sun, and once the Sun goes, the planet becomes, for all intents and purposes, uninhabitable. He3 mining could be used temporarily, as a fossil fuel version 2.0, but it is a fossil fuel, and it will eventually be exhausted.

    The moon is not US property.
    I don't know how this is not considered spam and trolling.

    And I would know about spam and trolling.

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by *Yawn*...God? View Post
    What's ironic is that this would be an even more symbolic fossil fuel than organic fossil fuels. It took billions of years for He3 to accumulate in the Moon's surface. It took merely millions of years for coal and oil to form. Once the He3 is all mined away, you have a better chance of waiting for a forest to metamorphize into coal than for an obtainable amount of He3.

    This is a very interesting idea, however. Very interesting, and rather well presented. I especially agree that NASA needs a goal. A real goal, even if it is not space exploration. A space telescope with a 1000 meter lens or something insane, some goal to build up toward and attempt to reach, slowly, over time. Regarding the energy, though, unfortunately in my mind it only reenforces the argument for solar power/geothermal as the primary energy source. They are the only energy sources that will last for essentially the lifetime of the Sun, and once the Sun goes, the planet becomes, for all intents and purposes, uninhabitable. He3 mining could be used temporarily, as a fossil fuel version 2.0, but it is a fossil fuel, and it will eventually be exhausted.

    I don't know how this is not considered spam and trolling.

    And I would know about spam and trolling.
    The difference is, unlike fossil fuels He-3 is a component of solar wind and the sun continually emits he-3 onto the moon's surface. The fact that it would provide us with clean (unlike coal) energy for about a thousand years is plenty of reason enough. In a thousand years I am guessing we will have another solution to energy problems.

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    The difference is, unlike fossil fuels He-3 is a component of solar wind and the sun continually emits he-3 onto the moon's surface.
    Yeah, at the rate of 0.0000000068 parts per billion per year (assuming it's currently 30 ppb). Which is (pun incoming) astronomically small. It would take another 4.4 billion years for another mere 30 parts per billion (using the least conservative estimate), for only another thousand years of 21st century energy requirements.

    Don't try to fool anyone by not calling this a fossil fuel. It is a fossil fuel. It's "clean", to be sure, with no oxidized carbon emissions, but to state that "the sun continually emits He3 onto the Moon's surface" as to insinuate it's a renewable energy source is so disingenuous to the point of it almost being insulting.

    The fact that it would provide us with clean (unlike coal) energy for about a thousand years is plenty of reason enough. In a thousand years I am guessing we will have another solution to energy problems.
    I agree. I'm not necessarily against mining for He3. It could end up becoming a valuable energy source for the near future, but that's all it is. It's not a "permanent" energy source that would last for the remaining lifetime of the Sun. The question is if He3 will become necessary. If solar power stations were built in the Sahara, they could power all of Europe and the Middle East. In the American Southwest, they could power North America. In the Atacama desert, South America. Using super-heated molten salt, new solar power stations are now able to produce electricity at night as well. Unfortunately, I can't think of an exceptionally sunny place in Asia, especially east Asia, but they do have the Ring of Fire and geothermal alternatives.

    The real problem I have with He3 mining is that it's not a "permanent" solution. It is exhaustible, and we know it. To use it as an energy source would just be inviting future problems, as future generations would possibly also procrastinate as these current generations are doing in regards to carbon fossil fuels. Humans function best with a semblance of permanence and stability, and I think He3 mining would be a step forward in technology, but a step backwards in finding a "permanent" energy source.

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by *Yawn*...God? View Post
    Don't try to fool anyone by not calling this a fossil fuel.
    Replenishment rates aside, it isn't a fossil fuel. No organism died to create He3.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


  9. #9

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    There are two definitions of fossil fuel I use then.

    One, a fuel that is finite, not replenished more quickly than expended, requiring time equivalent of many millions of human lifespans to form, hence a metaphorical fossil.

    Two, a fuel that is finite, not replenished more quickly than expended, created by death of organisms, hence a literal fossil.

    This is all semantics, but a dead raccoon produces fossil fuel, though no scientist would consider it a fossil.

    Anyway, first line I stated in this thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    What's ironic is that this would be an even more symbolic fossil fuel than organic fossil fuels.
    And anyway, fossil fuel isn't a technical term. Organic hydrocarbon lithostatic reservoir would be a more correct term. And, if I'm not mistaken, fossils are technically organic matter that have been replaced with inorganic minerals and mineralized. Coal wouldn't be a fossil as much as it would be a "preserved" dead organism, since it's organic material, specifically carbon, hasn't been replaced with inorganic material. Coal is a mummy of sorts, while Sue the T. Rex is a fossil. Fossil fuel is a misnomer.

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by *Yawn*...God? View Post
    Yeah, at the rate of 0.0000000068 parts per billion per year (assuming it's currently 30 ppb). Which is (pun incoming) astronomically small. It would take another 4.4 billion years for another mere 30 parts per billion (using the least conservative estimate), for only another thousand years of 21st century energy requirements.

    Don't try to fool anyone by not calling this a fossil fuel. It is a fossil fuel. It's "clean", to be sure, with no oxidized carbon emissions, but to state that "the sun continually emits He3 onto the Moon's surface" as to insinuate it's a renewable energy source is so disingenuous to the point of it almost being insulting.
    Fair enough (I would have made the point in a different way), but I would still say that the fact that it will last 1,000 years is an ample reason enough, and I doubt the entire world would procrastinate other energy problems for that long, seeing as they would have; well, a thousands years to plan in advance.

    I agree. I'm not necessarily against mining for He3. It could end up becoming a valuable energy source for the near future, but that's all it is. It's not a "permanent" energy source that would last for the remaining lifetime of the Sun. The question is if He3 will become necessary. If solar power stations were built in the Sahara, they could power all of Europe and the Middle East. In the American Southwest, they could power North America. In the Atacama desert, South America. Using super-heated molten salt, new solar power stations are now able to produce electricity at night as well. Unfortunately, I can't think of an exceptionally sunny place in Asia, especially east Asia, but they do have the Ring of Fire and geothermal alternatives.
    Solar energy has problems of its own. Variances in the weather affect the amount of power, and solar panels in the desert would require power lines to be stretched all the way across Europe. This would cost a lot, waste a lot of resources, and harm the environment (not to mention the fact that building vast expanses of solar farms harms the environment in the first place). The same applies to the United States, solar farms in one state would require enormous amounts of energy to be transported, increasing the likelihood of power failures along these lines.

    Also, do you have any evidence giving relevant info on how much solar energy currently costs, how much energy it produces, and whether or not the amount of energy you are saying it will provide is merely a prediction for 50 years or so (much less than a thousand)?

    The real problem I have with He3 mining is that it's not a "permanent" solution. It is exhaustible, and we know it. To use it as an energy source would just be inviting future problems, as future generations would possibly also procrastinate as these current generations are doing in regards to carbon fossil fuels. Humans function best with a semblance of permanence and stability, and I think He3 mining would be a step forward in technology, but a step backwards in finding a "permanent" energy source.
    Like I said above; with a thousand years procrastination is hardly a problem, and we would have the advantage of a thousand years with no harm to the environment (unlike solar). In a thousand years we will likely have terraformed mars or something, the problems of right now will hardly seem irrelevant then.


    Thanks for the discussion so far though; this is my case written for S&D and I am trying to find some things I could fix/improve. If you have any recommendations, feel free to say.

    ---------- Post added at 08:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:52 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post

    Soren, $15B seems low to establish this project (there are other variable costs as well we should consider), do you have reason to this amount?
    Don't take it up with me.

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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Don't take it up with me.
    I didn't see the embedded link the first time, but now it doesn't seem to be directing properly, could you provide a new one? Thanks.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


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    Re: The US should actively mine Lunar Helium 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren
    Fair enough (I would have made the point in a different way), but I would still say that the fact that it will last 1,000 years is an ample reason enough, and I doubt the entire world would procrastinate other energy problems for that long, seeing as they would have; well, a thousands years to plan in advance.
    We have agreement then.

    Solar energy has problems of its own. Variances in the weather affect the amount of power,
    Well, this is true, but you build more to compensate. You don't build an exact amount of power plants, that produce the exact amount of electricity needed at maximum capacity. Everyone's buying new hair-dryers every day. Similarly, in all developed countries there is excess of electricity, and not a shortage of it, those that are on the grid. You always have more, just in case.

    and solar panels in the desert would require power lines to be stretched all the way across Europe.
    Depends what you mean by stretched. Would this be much different than sub-oceanic telegraph lines, telephone lines, fiber-optic lines, or oil pipelines? If one could put a line across the Atlantic in 1900, I'm sure they could put a power line across the Mediterranean 2050.

    This would cost a lot, waste a lot of resources, and harm the environment (not to mention the fact that building vast expanses of solar farms harms the environment in the first place).
    There are two ways in looking at this, then. Either the Moon is a natural environment, and should be respected, or it's our slave. If the former, how can we in good consciousness strip-mine the entire surface of the moon? The entire surface. If 1 terrestrial strip-mine is a blight on the landscape, imagine that moon-sized strip-mine in the sky, every single night, every single day, until the end of time. Of course, if the moon is our slave, then who cares, right?

    Unlike the intrinsic harm to the environment burning carbon fuels causes, solar energy would not necessarily be harmful to the environment, though it could be. Deciding to build a solar field in the middle of a cacti forest would be harming the environment. Draining the local aquifer to cool equipment would also be harming the environment.

    Even if solar power and geothermal cost more than other types of electricity, they will last the lifetime of the sun, which has its own value. A Ferrari costs more to run and has a greater purchase cost than a Ford Taurus, more expensive insurance, etc., yet it is still considered the superior vehicle.

    There are also plans to build solar fields in space, and to send the energy obtained from space to Earth. This would essentially eliminate all types of terrestrial environmental harm. Of course, it has its own issues and problems, but doesn't everything?

    Also, do you have any evidence giving relevant info on how much solar energy currently costs, how much energy it produces, and whether or not the amount of energy you are saying it will provide is merely a prediction for 50 years or so (much less than a thousand)?
    Well, your thousand years is still 21st century years. Not 22nd. Or 23rd century years. But I will look up number cost predictions in regards to solar and He-3 and see how they compare.

    Like I said above; with a thousand years procrastination is hardly a problem, and we would have the advantage of a thousand years with no harm to the environment (unlike solar). In a thousand years we will likely have terraformed mars or something, the problems of right now will hardly seem irrelevant then.
    Oh, come on. "Unlike solar"? As if solar power is some environmentally harmful method of energy production like fission or hydroelectric, let alone oil and coal? Seriously, bro? With every easterly space launch the rotation of the Earth slows down slightly (and most launches are easterly to gain the momentum boost from Earth's rotation). What could be more environmentally harmful than stopping the rotation of the Earth? Calling solar environmentally harmful is just embarrassing.

 

 

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